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Construction Punch List – Everything you need to know

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By Compton Staff
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Punch List

What is a Punch List?

All across the internet, a punch list is considered the document or list of items that define the work that doesn’t conform to the contract specifications, after substantial completion of the project. Where this is true, we see the punch list as more than “items that do not conform to contract specifications”.

A good punch list will define all items that need addressed before final occupancy, and include a plan for completion. The list will include any minor repairs to finishes, cleanup, and any outstanding installations remaining. In some cases, the punch list will also include final additions to scope with new last minute details.

By preparing a complete and accurate punch list, entire construction team will have a clear understanding of the details remaining, and everyone will leave happy.

How To ensure a Punch List is completed:

The Client’s Responsibility:

Be present near the end of the project. Inspect the work. Ask questions.  

Typically, a contractor will set up a meeting with the client to have a punch list walk through. As the client, be prepared for the walk through. Visit the site before the meeting to have a good understanding what work has taken place and look at what is left. Don’t use the walk through with the contractor as the discovery session. By having some prior preparation, you can ask better questions of the contractors and in some cases the tradesmen that will be completing the punch out.  At this time, it is critical to make sure your expectations are clearly communicated, and everyone knows what you want to see. Construction is a long process and during the punch out, it’s almost complete!

The General Contractor’s Responsibility:

Consult. Have an eye for detail. Be prepared and helpful.

The general contractor should be prepared to walk the client through and point out remaining items on his “to do list”. They will use this meeting to show off their work and give an eye for the details. Good contractors will be able to show the client most of the items on the punch list, if not all! However, the contractor represents the client, so they will consult and assist the client through the things that they feel the client would like to see.

The Subcontractor Responsibility:

Get it done. Follow-up. Communicate changes in scope. 

The subcontractor’s responsibility will be to ensure the actual punch list tasks get completed, and completed with a high level of workmanship. The expectation is always that these tasks will be completed efficiently and in a timely manner. However, there are often items that come up at the very end of the project, which add to the scope of work. The subcontractors should know when changes are outside of the original scope of work, and communicate extra costs and schedule. Following up and following through are the biggest responsibilities of the subcontractors.

The Architect/Designer Responsibility:

Design Intent. Confirm what was built. 

Architects or designers will often attend the punch list walk through to ensure what was on the drawings was in fact built. They are responsible to point out anything that was built not to the specified drawings. However, in some cases the field engineering and design changes may not be accurate to the drawings, but rather client requested. In these cases, the architect and designer need to be okay with the changes even though they aren’t the original designs. They should lead the conversation and ensure the client got what the design intended.

Final Completion

Now that the roles and responsibilities are defined, all there is left to do is get it done!

The Punch list is a critical step in the construction process. It truly is the final task in delivering a successful construction project, and more than “items that do not conform to contract specifications.” It is the entire team working together and delivering a project to be proud of.

If you are at the end of a project, ask your general contractor to set up the Punch list walk through.

However, if you haven’t started on a project yet, check out these 5 tips on choosing a good general contractor. Ensuring you have a partner for a general contractor will help make your punch list shorter, but more importantly your entire construction experience better.

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